Storing mid-sized art prints?
June 27, 2014 1:52 PM   Subscribe

We love art prints, but we signed up for some subscription series and have managed to buy more than we can afford to frame. What's the best way to store them to make sure they stay flat and pristine? Typical size is between 11x14 and 24x36.
posted by smackfu to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An acid and lignin free solander box laid flat on a shelf in a cool, dark place free from vermin, with glassine or drafting vellum sheets between the prints.

Failing that, mount them to ragboard using photocorners/corner pockets, put a sheet of glassine over the face, and put another sheet of ragboard over the first, sandwiching them inside. hinge the sheets of ragboard together, and put each individual print in its own sandwich/folder inside a hardsided portfolio in a cool, dark, dry, vermin-free place.

"The Care and Handling of Art Objects" from the NY Met is a great resource but may be a little outdated at this point. The Container Store has solander boxes and so may a local art or photography store. Humidity, light, acid/lignin, pressure, bugs/mice and surface friction are your enemies.
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:02 PM on June 27, 2014

(The rules are somewhat different for pastels or oil on paper, but you said prints so I'm working with that. Check the subscription service for advice specific to the type of print they sold you, and verify that advice against outside resources. Your local art museum or library may have someone on staff who will talk to you about what they would do.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:05 PM on June 27, 2014

The ALEX drawer from Ikea is great for this. The drawers aren't too deep, so you get more drawers than in most portable storage. Then you can organize by style, size, color or age...however you like. The benefit is it's on caster wheels and looks nice in an office. The downside is the holes on the drawers allow some air to get into the drawers. I'd personally be OK with this for prints in the ~$100 range but might be worries for very long-term storage of expensive art prints.

You can also watch Craigslist for map or architectural drawing storage units. They are typically metal and have very broad and flat drawers for storage.

Or flat acid-free and lignin-free storage box tucked in a closet or in a safe cupboard.

Make sure to get some acid free papers to separate the prints.

Make sure they're in a room with relatively controllable humidity.

This is assuming you want to keep them nice, clean and useable but not spend an absolute fortune to store heirloom-quality art pieces (i.e. paying for proper art storage requires some very particular humidity control issues.)

If you want to frame them now, one cheap-ish way of framing prints is to buy Ikea frames, then get them properly matted with acid-free mats at the art framing store, or learn how to mat them yourself. Saves a bundle and they look nice with a variety of decors.
posted by barnone at 2:07 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I see you're in Connecticut. Something like this flat file will serve nicely.

Art supply stores sell glassine by the sheet or by the roll.
posted by the_blizz at 2:46 PM on June 27, 2014

Saving Stuff is a good recent book by a Smithsonian conservator on caring for collections of all kinds.

Light Impressions has several kinds of archival print storage options and glassine.
posted by gudrun at 3:52 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

See also my question from a ways back.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:41 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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